There’s too much trash here

By CATHERINE KIRK CKIRK@DDTONLINE.COM,

I love photography, especially when they are pictures taken by local photographers to show off our beautiful region.  This week, local photographer John Keen shared pictures on Facebook he took Monday afternoon at the Greenville Cypress Preserve, but they were not what people expected to see. Instead of beautiful photographs of the plants and wildlife, he wound up taking several pictures of trash.

Still great pictures from a photography perspective, the images showed confetti scattering across the grounds and plants, the empty “confetti blaster” left on the ground, drink cans and cups floating in the water, and even a plastic bag with trash discarded directly in front of the entrance sign.

The cypress preserve is a place my family and I have greatly enjoyed over the years. It’s a beautiful place that’s not too far of a drive and makes you feel as though you’re not in the city.

To see an abundance of trash left so carelessly like this upsets me. I’m mad at the thoughtlessness of those who have left this trash and I’m sad for the people who have spent so much time to create this wonderful place for residents to enjoy.

Here is something beautiful and free to enjoy and every piece of trash left behind represents how little locals appreciate it.

Keen’s photographs reminded me of an article I wrote in 2016 when more than 60 spindles were kicked out of the Bob Gramling Observation Deck. After the Greenville Cypress Preserve Trust ensured repairs were made for the safety of visitors, it was less than two weeks when vandalism struck again and a large board and several more spindles on the deck were found broken.

I often hear people complain about there being “nothing to do” in Greenville, but when we have something to do like the cypress preserve, litter is left on its pathways and the boardwalks are vandalized.

Littering is nothing new, I have seen several people casually do it. One of my childhood friend’s mom said she didn’t want trash in her car and always told us to throw our wrappings out. Because she said so, and because I was a child, I didn’t think much of it.

I’ll never forget the time I decided to toss a piece of trash out the car window of my mother’s car. Absolutely livid, my mother turned that Honda Civic around, put it in park and made me get out to look for it. While I was looking, she also made me pick up any other trash left nearby on the ground as well. Even after I got back in the car, I heard what was sure to be a record-breaking length of a lecture on why littering was wrong.

If more parents were like my mother, this city would be a lot cleaner because I can say with confidence I have never littered again.

I am accustomed to seeing trash littered in Greenville, so much so that whenever we’re in a city that isn’t riddled with litter, my husband and I always find ourselves amazed and saying things like, “Wow, this city is so clean.”

Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to count all the trash I saw on my commute home from work Monday. I knew it was likely to be a lot, but I was not prepared for just how much.

After exiting the Delta Democrat-Times, I saw more than 550 pieces of trash by the time I turned off of Broadway Street. By the time I made it home, I had counted 1,848 pieces of trash. The saddest part is I know my number is lower than what was actually there. There were times it was simply overwhelming how much trash was on the edge of the street and in ditches.

We must do better than this.

Would you leave trash scattered about in your house? I would hope not.

Greenville is our home and we need to treat it with respect.

Our city would look so much better without all of this garbage lying around. It is simply unacceptable.

I know there are littering laws and fines set in place, but are any of them ever actually enforced? Unless you catch the act on camera and can prove without a doubt who it is, it’s almost impossible for law enforcement to do anything about littering.

It is on us, the residents who live here, to do our part to keep our home clean.

I want to be proud of my home and proudly show it off to those who come to visit.

We should want to do the same for the city. 

Catherine Kirk is managing editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. She can be reached at ckirk@ddtonline.com.